The FBI has launched a civil rights investigation into allegations of abuse at a police warehouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The facility, known as the “Brave Cave,” has been the subject of recent lawsuits claiming that drug suspects detained there were assaulted by police officers. One man alleges he was severely beaten and required hospital care before being booked into jail, while a woman claims she was strip-searched with a flashlight. Following the first complaint, the city’s mayor ordered the closure of the warehouse, disbanded the police department’s street crimes unit, and an officer at the center of the allegations resigned and was arrested on a simple battery charge.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul, who requested the FBI’s involvement, acknowledged initial failures by the internal affairs division to investigate the claims. The most recent lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ternell Brown, alleges that she was pulled over, taken to the warehouse, and strip-searched before being released without charges. Attorneys representing Brown and Jeremy Lee, another plaintiff, have stated that they have received numerous additional reports of abuse at the warehouse and plan to file more lawsuits.
The officer who resigned, Troy Lawrence Jr., has faced multiple civil rights lawsuits and excessive force complaints in recent years. His father, Troy Lawrence Sr., was promoted to deputy chief in 2020 after commanding the street crimes unit. The FBI’s investigation is based on allegations of abuse of authority by members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.
The recent scandal adds to a series of corruption and misconduct allegations that have plagued the Baton Rouge Police Department, including the high-profile 2016 fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, a Black man. In 2021, a corruption probe into the department’s narcotics division resulted in criminal charges and internal discipline against officers accused of stealing drugs from evidence and falsifying police reports.
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome expressed deep concern over the severity of the allegations and the potential impact on community trust.